Diary of a Ground Hopper: Worthing FC, The Bibby Financial Services Stadium

By Neil Glenn
Saturday, January 27 – Worthing 2 Wingate & Finchley 1
Worthing, of the Bostik League Premier Division, has been on my radar for quite a few years now.
The Fox and I made our minds up further when Worthing were the away team on a visit to Dorking Wanderers: all the away fans and club officials seemed very pleasant.
However, problems developed with the artificial playing surface at The Bibby Financial Services Stadium and the Mackerel Men were forced to play home games on various different grounds. I sort of forgot about them for a while.
Come Saturday 27th, when I am trawling fixtures for a suitable plastic pitch due to the continuing wet weather.
I check whether Worthing are back at their own home and BINGO! To make a full day of it, The Fox and I call in at Pulborough Brooks RSPB in the morning. We make the car just as the rain sets in for the day. For once, the weather forecast is spot on, almost to the minute. I then drive in to Worthing and hit upon a very nice chippy a few hundred yards from the stadium.
I arrive to find there is no parking at the ground. The surrounding streets are narrow and already busy with parked cars. I am early enough to comfortably bag a space without causing a problem for residents but I suspect things will get a little chaotic later on. Fortunately, side streets are patrolled by members of the West Downs Neighbourhood Watch Task Force to ensure all goes smoothly.
I pay a tenner to get in and another £2 for the programme. They are available from the club shop just inside the ground – or more accurately the club shed – so are nice and dry.
On entering the stadium, I find myself behind a goal. To my left is a covered terrace, to my right an open terrace. The impressive grandstand is down the left touchline, there’s an area of cover near the dugouts on the right touchline and cover behind the opposite goal. All covered areas will be packed this afternoon thanks to the persistent, horizontal rain.
The tea bar is to my left, right in the corner. The smell of curry sauce is quite potent! People are enjoying the food on offer but the chips look a tad anaemic for my liking. However, the bread pudding looks divine and is disappearing quickly.
The seats in the main stand look very comfortable. It turns out they are anything but! There is no legroom for anyone over five feet tall and one’s bum becomes numb very quickly. Or maybe I am just an odd shape?
The game is fairly poor entertainment in squally conditions, though both keepers are kept busy. Wingate edge the first half, though their opening goal is a travesty. The referee awards a penalty for a perfectly good challenge to give the away side a half time lead.
Worthing fight back in the second half and gain control through a lovely glancing header followed by an individual piece of skill. Finchley then lose the plot and have two men sent off! Unforgiveable indiscipline that costs them the points.
Pre-match info:  9
Welcome:  8.5
Facilities: 7.5
Food:  7
Charm: 5
Match: 5
Home team respect: 3
Fans:  7
Programme: 4.5
Officials: 5
Overall trip: 8
Attendance: 606
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday

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